over·​drive | \ ˈō-vər-ˌdrīv How to pronounce overdrive (audio) \

Definition of overdrive

1 : an automotive transmission gear that transmits to the drive shaft a speed greater than engine speed
2 : a state of heightened activity going into rhetorical overdrive

Examples of overdrive in a Sentence

He put the car into overdrive. His acting career is in overdrive. The reporters went into overdrive to finish their stories on time.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Sometimes these cells go into overdrive, however, stripping perfectly good parts of calcium, resulting in osteoporosis. Popular Science, "These trippy images reveal the colorful inner lives of bones," 4 Feb. 2020 That's why some campaigns are in overdrive trying to make up for the lack of personal connections traditionally expected by New Hampshire primary voters. NBC News, "New Hampshire's retail politics suffers from impeachment and focus on Iowa," 3 Feb. 2020 Photographing bushfires is exhausting because your body is in overdrive. Matthew Abbott, New York Times, "In One Photo, Capturing the Devastation of Australia’s Fires," 9 Jan. 2020 The death of the open office, a tax on robots, Gen Z's retirement plans and worker surveillance in overdrive: This special report explores what's next for work life. WSJ, "The Future of Everything | Work," 6 Jan. 2020 At this time of year, when much of the world is muted, hushed, and hibernating, bakers everywhere are in overdrive. Saveur, "A Worldwide View of Baking," 5 Nov. 2018 But when Oprah blessed the book landed in Oprah's Book Club, the conversation kicked into overdrive. Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN, "Oprah's new book club pick is fueling a debate. It's not just about the story. It's who's telling it," 24 Jan. 2020 This knowledge does not prevent my dissonance from going into overdrive. Sean Gregory, Time, "Is It Unethical to Watch Football With Your Kids?," 23 Jan. 2020 But just as the body’s immune system can rev into overdrive, causing inflammation and devastating physical symptoms, microglia can also become overexcited. Donna Jackson Nakazawa, STAT, "Microglia: a new target in the brain for depression, Alzheimer’s, and more?," 17 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'overdrive.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of overdrive

1926, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about overdrive

Time Traveler for overdrive

Time Traveler

The first known use of overdrive was in 1926

See more words from the same year

Statistics for overdrive

Last Updated

10 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Overdrive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/overdrive. Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for overdrive


How to pronounce overdrive (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of overdrive

: a gear in an automobile that allows it to be driven at higher speeds
: a state of great activity especially in order to achieve something

More from Merriam-Webster on overdrive

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with overdrive

Comments on overdrive

What made you want to look up overdrive? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!